Report: Mitchell findings to get pre-holiday release

Updated: December 4, 2007, 6:10 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Just in time for the holidays for the baseball fan on your list: The Mitchell report?

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that according to two officials with knowledge of former Sen. George Mitchell's probe of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, the report will be released in the two weeks before Christmas, rather than during the winter meetings.

That means that teams could make deals during the winter meetings, only to learn two weeks later that the free agent they just signed faced possible discipline by Major League Baseball for past use of banned substances.

It is anticipated that the report will name names of current and former major league players who have used performance-enhancing substances including anabolic steroids and human growth hormone.

"The names of players will come out that people will be mad about," Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno said of the report last week, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Some of my information is secondhand, but I know there's going to be names."

Seven media companies, including The Associated Press, filed papers with a federal appeals court Tuesday in support of Hearst Corp.'s fight to get the names of Major League Baseball players implicated in a steroids investigation.

"Particularly given the prior release of the names to Sen. Mitchell and MLB's right to further disseminate the names, a restriction on access to the court records cannot possibly be effective," states the brief submitted by Advance Publications Inc., the AP, Bloomberg News, CNN, the (New York) Daily News, The New York Times and the Tribune Co.

The companies also argued that search warrant affidavits are usually publicly available "because they provide the factual justification for the exercise of significant governmental power -- sending federal agents into an individual's house."

Prosecutors asked a judge to keep the names under seal to protect the ongoing investigation. The MLB players' union argued that the names should be kept confidential to protect the players' privacy.

The Chronicle reported that on Monday, baseball's lead lawyer, Rob Manfred, advised teams to avoid commenting on Mitchell's findings or the names of players that are expected to be included in the report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.